I have been watching the Paris Unity Rally this morning, and I have to say that this is the ultimate rejection of terrorism. I was struck by the coming together of so many world leaders so quickly in response to a tragedy. I do not recall such a gathering after 9/11, or any widespread public display of unity that carried such a positive message. Part of this is the nature of the French themselves, who pride themselves so much on being French and expressing all the characteristics that being French means. This is a much different perspective than we have as Americans.
For Americans, we pride ourselves on our individuality, that is the trait that makes us Americans, although to some that seems a contradiction in terms. The individual is the pinnacle of our America, and that makes us a great country.
Contrast this with France and the French. France became a democracy after centuries of monarchical rule as a protest against the injustice that was widespread. France was a stratified culture, and the Revolution was about the concept that all French were equal. This new concept of being French became the driving force and has endured to this day.
The French stress secularism over religion as a unifying force. I think that this is an important difference between the US and France. This gives the French a greater leeway in the process of inclusion with their society. I am impressed with the display of French national unity.